God is an all loving, all caring and all giving kind of person. I often think about my earthly father and the immense amount of love he constantly shows me – and it astounds me to think that my Heavenly Father – God – loves me even more. How incredible is the knowledge we have that He knows each one of us by name and is fully aware of our struggles, our pains, our needs, our wants, and most importantly, our potential. He knows us better than we know ourselves, after all … He created us. He knows our weaknesses and He wants to bless us and help build those weaknesses into strengths.
Within the past few years, I have studied the concept of spiritual gifts and the fact that while we are born with some special gifts, we can pray and ask for any gifts that we would like to have. Too many people think that spiritual gifts are similar to a lottery – you either get it or you don’t. But that’s not how God works.
One of my favorite quotes from Elder Holland says, “Just because God is God, just because Christ is Christ, they cannot do other than care for us, bless us and help us if we will but come unto them, approaching their throne of grace in meekness, and lowliness of heart. They can’t help but bless us. They have to. It is their nature.”
Consider this quote from George Q. Cannon:
“If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.” He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them.”
God not only loves us, but He wants to bless us. He wants to give us all the tools we need to become perfect and return to Him. Often I will be going through a trial and find myself asking His help to show me which gift he wants me to strengthen by going through it. What is the purpose of this trial? What do I need to learn? What can I strengthen? Often trials are given to us to expose our weaknesses so that we can turn to the Lord in prayer with a sincere desire, then get off our knees and work hard to help the Lord answer those prayers. As I have studied, prayed and applied these principles in my life, I have been astounded at the gifts God has given me to use and the opportunities He gives me on a daily basis to strengthen them.
Too many of us sell ourselves short by thinking we are not capable of gifts and added abilities – but those thoughts come from the adversary. YOU are created in the image of a Heavenly Father. You have the ability, capacity and potential to do all that He can and does. We also fall into a pattern thinking that spiritual gifts are some complicated, impossible skill that only important people in high positions are given. This quote from Marvin J. Ashton says it beautifully:
“Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.”
As I have asked for spiritual gifts and worked hard to strengthen them, I have found myself being prompted more and more to ask for other gifts. New gifts. New abilities. I know that when the Lord sees us using those gifts to better ourselves and his kingdom here on the earth, He is more than willing to bless us with more – and even at times, prompt us to ask us for ones that we had not thought of before. I recently read this article and think it touches on the concept of gifts rather beautifully.
My purpose in writing this post is that within the past few years, I have really prayed and worked hard on the gift of discernment. Like a muscle, the more you exercise and “workout” a spiritual gift from God, the stronger it becomes. Heavenly Father is constantly directing me, prompting me, leading me, and often … putting me to the test. Very recently I have had some very interesting promptings and have acted on them. Most often I don’t understand in the moment why I’m being told to do something, but without a doubt it always makes sense eventually. I feel that in my life now – more than ever before – this gift has become a part of who I am. On a daily basis the spirit is constantly prompting me of things that will happen before they do, or urging me to follow a prompting that doesn’t make sense in the moment.
Within the past 4 weeks I’ve been given some very clear, and very strange promptings to follow. I’ve stayed very close to my Heavenly Father and have continued studying about this gift to make sure I am using it appropriately and also listening to the right source. Satan is an expert at counterfeiting those feelings and promptings – but he cannot replicate a feeling of peace. So often I drop to my knees and question the promptings I’ve been given, and then immediately I feel overcome with God’s love for me and an assured peace that I do indeed need to act on this prompting. There have also been miracles in my life within the past few weeks where I felt prompted to do something, and put it off because it was a prompting to do something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I started getting frustrated with myself at letting my pride and fear get in the way of doing something I knew I needed to follow. And then, as I prayed and asked for a clearer direction and a second witness that this was true – without fail, SOMETHING would happen. Two times in the past week someone has showed up at my door with the same message, or words of advice that only confirmed I need to do what I’ve been told to do. It’s sometimes scary, and yet so beautiful as I’ve watched the Lord’s hand molding me into an instrument He can use to further his work.
I felt impressed to write this post today because a lot of things have come crashing down in my life recently; promptings that were so strong and I acted on them, only to end up in what feels like a corner. But I know there are no corners when we are doing His work. When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window. I’m currently at a point where I’m looking for those windows – but know without a doubt they are there and will be opened when the timing is right.
Yesterday I was directed to this article. I had been really down all day, questioning the promptings I had followed and if they were indeed from the right source. This article not only taught me more about this gift, but assured me I had followed the right source and that even though I didn’t understand – all things would be revealed in the Lord’s time.
It’s sometimes fun seeing the Lord’s sense of humor as he tests us to see just how much we are willing to listen and obey – especially with simple or sometimes confusing things He asks us to do. But I promise that He is only preparing us for great things ahead. I’ve seen countless blessings unfold in my life as I have prayed for gifts when I am in need. When I am feeling extra sad, I pray for the gift of happiness. When I feel discouraged, I pray for the gift of faith. When I feel alone, I pray for the gift of angels. I know without a doubt that the Lord loves us. He loves me! He loves you! Ask Him for help. Ask Him for gifts. He will bless you. And as I have seen in my own life, the more we ask, the more He gives. Are we not all here to align our will with His and become instruments in His work? I have been amazed at the blessings he is pouring out in my life, and even when I have a dark or a sad day I can see His hand and have the faith that good things are just around the corner.